The Paris Museum Pass: Worth it?

paris museum pass

The short answer?  Absolutely.

For those of you who are okay with reading beyond that, let me tell you all the reasons why.

You get to skip the line

For a lot of the museums there is a special entrance just for passholders – the one at the Louvre is particularly skip-tacular.  If there’s one thing the efficient traveler never does, it’s stand in long lines to get places.  Often this is down to poor planning as today so many places offer online booking and so many internet reviews tell people exactly when the lines get ridiculous.

The Museum Pass will not let you cut any line at the Eiffel Tower – nor will it let you into the Tower.  That’s another company entirely.  Check out our colleagues at EasyPass if you’re into skipping the line :-)

It covers monuments and museums that are short visits

When people hear the word “Museum Pass” they may think of Museums, but they don’t think of National Monuments – be they the Arc de Triomphe or Sainte-Chapelle.  Both of those are excellent short visits (Your museum pass gets you to the top of the Arc, one of the coolest views of the City) and can be accomplished in under 30 minutes, if you time your entrance well.  Separate admission to these two places alone goes a long way to paying back your Pass.

Then there’s a museum like the Orangerie, which has an okay permanent collection but a spectacular “custom-designed” collection of Monets, which you can fully appreciate within half an hour.  Or Petit Palais, which does have a magnificent permanent collection, and can be comfortably seen in 2-3 hours, that’s even with a break in its lovely inner courtyard.

You save $$$/€€€/£££

Paris is no inexpensive city, you will learn that if you don’t already know it.  The Museum Pass allows you to get into the “biggies” (think Louvre + Orsay + Invalides) but also gets you into dozens of lovely and under-appreciated museums as well.  This is a testament to Paris itself, as cities like New York don’t feature anything like it, despite having many wonderful museums.  It’s a huge tribute to Paris that a city known for its territorial curators that they managed to herd all the art cats into a room and dictated that they WOULD accept this pass.  We get the benefit.

For those of us who are locals, we always plan for Free Museum Sundays (first Sunday of the month).  That’s when we get into almost al the museums for free (the Louvre is seasonally on that list).  If you’re in TRUE money saving mode you could time your pass to end the day before and get one more day onto your museum binge.  However, it’s a very crowded day so use it as a day to circle back to places you might have already seen, or luxuriously use it as a way to go into a place, see one or two things, then leave.

It plans part of your trip for you, but you’re not bound to it

When you buy tickets ahead of time for particular days and times, you are sometimes trapped should you feel sick or simply feel otherwise on the day of.  If you realize the true value of the Paris Museum Pass, plan the 3 or 4 visits upon which you will immediately recoup the cost, you will see each additional trip as delicious extra gravy to your Parisian “meal” of culture.

Stephen is a big lover of the Orsay, but recommends that Impressionist fans head out to the Musee Marmottan Monet, far from the madding crowds, or even a half-day trip to the Caillebottes Estate in Yerres.  If you’re feeling really adventurous, go to Monet’s place in Giverny.

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